Q1 2018 Transactions Report: Robotics Mergers & Acquisitions Slow

After another strong year of transactions around robotics, artificial intelligence, and unmanned systems, the start of 2018 was surprisingly slow in terms of robotics mergers and acquisitions. Have big deals inhibited smaller ones? Are private equity investments changing the technology industry? Is there a natural ebb and flow of startup activity and economic bullishness?

In our first quarterly transactions report of 2018, Jim Nash looks at the biggest purchases of 2017 (more than $1 billion apiece) and how they compare with this year so far. SoftBank Group, which was on a major roll last year, was relatively quiet in the past three months.

Of course, it’s too soon to say whether robotics mergers will be down in the long term, but such trends are worth monitoring for automation innovators, integrators, and end users.

Nash notes that political uncertainty around global trade, the threat of recession, and the breadth of robotics applications could also be factors. This report also looks at some of the causes for a high rate of startup failures.

Robotics mergers only part of the funding picture

But it’s far from doom and gloom in Q1. Even with fewer robotics mergers, there were still lots of investments, as the automotive industry continues to use — and develop — AI and robotics technologies.

Industrial automation may be relatively mature when compared with drones or AI, but there is still a lot of interest among investors and governments in expanding the use of robots in manufacturing.

Supply chain and logistics automation is also likely to continue strong growth this year. Despite serious setbacks, analysts have said that funding and research into self-driving cars is unlikely to slow.

In addition to our quarterly transactions reports, for the latest on robotics mergers, acquisitions, and more, check out our “Robot Investments Weekly” articles, as well as our Transactions Database, which RBR Insiders can sort by transaction type, company, and industry. You can also participate in discussions around automation and investments at RoboBusiness 2018 in Silicon Valley this September.

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